I kind of can’t believe I’ve lived this long without ever having tasted, never mind made, a patty melt. Sure, I’ve seen them on diner menus here there and everywhere, and for some reason I had it stuck in my mind that they were some kind of second-class hamburger…a hamburger sandwich for someone who couldn’t make the necessary commitment to a regular burger. And then for some mysterious reason I decided to cook up some patty melts for supper. And you know what? I was wrong, wrong, WRONG. A patty melt is like the love child of a grilled cheese sandwich and a perfect burger. Come with me on my journey to patty melt enlightenment.
After seeing the description on various and sundry diner menus, the essential elements seemed to be as follows: ground beef, swiss cheese, sauteed onions and bread. The bread seemed to usually be rye, but since I am not a rye bread person, I swapped in a few slices of my own homemade country-style white. But you be you, bread-wise…either way will be just fine. The cheeses alternated between Swiss and cheddar and American…Swiss seemed to be the most popular, and I already had some in my fridge. It was a sign, if I ever saw one.
After experimenting with this on the grill, I have to say that my electric griddle was a much calmer experience, patty melt-wise. If you don’t have an electric griddle, a large frying pan will be just fine…both give you a little more control than the grill. Here’s the scoop: saute a sliced up onion in some butter over medium low heat until it is tender and golden – this takes about 20 minutes, and in the meantime you can get your other ingredients ready, because when the patty melt assembly gets going things happen fast!
Heat up your griddle or frying pan, and generously butter four slices of bread. Form the ground beef into two patties roughly the size and shape of your bread, and fry them up on the griddle or pan to your liking. Keep the griddle hot and assemble things as follows:
Bread, butter side down
2. A couple slices of cheese
4. Generous spoonful of fried onions
5. More cheese
6. Second slice of bread, butter side up
Just to be totally clear, you want the buttered side of the bread facing out, so that it cooks up nice and golden. Now carefully place your patty melt on the griddle and leave it there until it is nice and toasted and the cheese is starting to get melty. Carefully flip and repeat. Now cut it in half, take a warm, juicy, melty bite, and realize that you will never be able to pass up a patty melt on a menu Ever Again.
By the way, one shared patty melt was more than enough for the Southern husband and me to feel completely happy. It might have been for the fact that I served it with some homemade potato chips on the side. So what if we had to eat nothing but salad for the next week? It was worth it to go to Patty Melt Heaven!
- 4 tablespoons soft butter, plus extra for spreading
- 1 onion, sliced
- ½ pound ground chuck
- ¼ pound thinly sliced swiss cheese
- 4 slices country or rye bread (you need a sturdy bread for these)
- Place butter in medium frying pan over medium low heat. Add onions and stir until soft and golden, about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare patty melt ingredients: generously butter one side each of the bread and set aside.
- Heat griddle or frying pan to medium high. Form the beef into patties roughly the size of your bread and cook on each side until done to your liking (3-4 minutes per side for medium).
- Assemble the patty melts as follows: bread (butter side down), topped with a few slices of cheese, burger, onion, more cheese and top with remaining bread, butter side up.
- Return patty melts to the griddle or frying pan and cook until first side is golden. Flip carefully and cook until second side is golden. Remove, cut in half and serve at once.